On a summer day in 1951, two baby girls were born in a hospital in small-town Wisconsin. The infants were accidentally switched, and went home with the wrong families. One of the mothers realized the mistake but chose to keep quiet until the day, more than 40 years later, when she decided to tell both daughters what happened. The current episode of NPR’s This American Life tells the story of how the truth changed two families’ lives-and how it didn’t.
I listen to This American Life faithfully because it never fails to deliver fascinating looks into the lives of ordinary, and not-so-ordinary Americans. “Switched at Birth” is no exception, but it is one of the most compelling episodes I’ve heard in the past year of listening. Although the episode isn’t really about adoption, it is about what happens when people discover they have two families–which is exactly what adoption is all about. Because both families affected by the switched babies are Christian, it is also about faith and about how these particular believers worked out their pain. It’s about how one misguided religious person–in this case, one of the fathers who was also a minister–can make a terrible mistake and yet believe himself to be completely right, even to the point of invoking “the will of God.”
I hope any of you with iPods or who have computer work to do but who want to multi-task and listen to this broadcast will listen to it. I was so deeply moved by the comments of both mothers, in particular, but also by the daughters who grew up in the ‘wrong’ families.
If you listen to it, please come back and comment. I’ll comment, myself, later when I have more time; but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, either.